"Amal is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an advisor to Kofi Annan regarding Syria and was selected for a three-person U.N. commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza Strip. So tonight, her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award."
So Tina Fey perfectly nailed the funny world we live in at the 2015 Golden Globes, when George Clooneyreceived the Cecil B. DeMille Award and his wife, renowned human rights attorney Amal Clooney (née Alamuddin), was applauded for bringing opera gloves back to the red carpet and then meme'd for posterity as George was singing her praises during her speech.
But though the Internet at large may be more aware of Amal through the lens of her husband, a Hollywood heartthrob since the 1990s who over the years has become the sage celebrity voice of an industry (and Nescafé), George at least seems to be aware of how lucky he got.
And that's what matters.
"It's a humbling thing when you find someone to love," George memorably said toward the end of his acceptance speech. "Even better if you've been waiting your whole life. And when your whole life is 53 years...cue Amy, start the jokes. [A self-deprecating reference to the zinger of all Globe zingers from 2014, about how, in Gravity, Clooney would "rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age."]
"Amal, whatever alchemy it is that brought us together, I couldn't be more proud to be your husband."
Proving that no matter who you are, it does sometimes feel as though a certain level of happiness wouldn't have been possible if fate hadn't lent its mystical hand to the situation.
In George and Amal's case, it turns out that the alchemist was Clooney's agent.
George's father, Nick Clooney, had previously intimated that his son met his future bride at a dinner, they hit it off and poof, so went the fantasies of millions of women everywhere.
But now we have a fuller picture of how that all came to pass. There was dinner involved, but that came later. Rather, in true George Clooney-post-ER fashion, the Oscar-winning actor and producer was just relaxing at his home in Lake Como in July 2013 when fate knocked on his door.
"I didn't leave the house," he recalls in the upcoming second episode of My Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman. "No, it's the wildest thing. A mutual friend of ours said, 'I'm stopping by and can I bring my friend?'
"And I was like, 'Of course.' I got a call from my agent who called me and said, 'I met this woman who's coming to your house who you're gonna marry.'"
Enter Amal Alamuddin, an attorney who was internationally renowned in her own right for her tireless work defending the rule of law in cases where the government was more apt to throw due process out the window. (We're guessing George's agent thought, Well, Clooney's pretty smart and, considering his work raising awareness about human rights violations in Sudan and his involvement with Not On Our Watch... maybe these two kids will hit it off!)
Born in Beirut and raised in England to a travel agent father and journalist mother who affectionately call her "Amoula," Amal couldn't be more impressive on paper. She has degrees from Oxford University and New York University School of Law. She's a member of both the New York and London Bars. She speaks English, French and Arabic. She joined London's estimable law firm Doughty Street Chambers. She just may be on a first-name basis at The Hague.
She served as advisor to Kofi Annan (as Tina noted). She was appointed to a panel investigating the act of rape as a war crime. She's represented victims of ISIS. She fights for prisoners to ensure their rights are being respected behind bars.
AP Photo/Christian Lutz
But as an exacting proponent of the law, Amal didn't just take on the easier cases where it was an easy question of good vs. bad. She was on a team representing controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in his extradition case against Sweden. She served as a legal advisor to the king of Bahrain, whose been widely accused of presiding over systemic repression and torture. In 2014, after she got engaged to George Clooney and became internationally famous twice-over, she appeared on behalf of Abdullah al Senussi, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's former henchman who was universally recognized as a terrible man—but whom was entitled to have his rights recognized by the International Criminal Court in its quest for global justice, if Libya refused to do so, his lawyer insisted.
"The whole point of the ICC is to be there when national systems can't do the job," Amal told London's Observer at the time. "Instead, it is giving a flawed, dangerous process the stamp of approval."
In 2015, her co-counsel was stabbed while they were both in the Maldives representing the island nation's president, who had been jailed on terrorism charges. And she told the U.K.'s Channel 4 in September 2016 about Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, "If there is a prosecution of President Assad I would be delighted to work on it."
We'll leave the more poetic odes to her intelligence and bravery to George, but it's fairly obvious that we're talking about an exceptionally dedicated lawyer and human rights advocate.
Considering her line of work, she had to be charming (in that magnetic, she-commands-respect kind of way), poised, whip-smart and, ultimately, very put together. So it makes sense that she ended up being a killer conversationalist. And, not to mention, she walked out of the pages of the legal journals and onto the pages of glossy magazines looking primed to make every Best-Dressed List from day one.
The first time they met, they ended up talking all night, George recalls. Yes, talked. His parents were there, hence the fond remembrances from Nick Clooney.
"The funniest thing was my mom and dad were visiting so my parents were there," he told Letterman. "And we just talked, we stayed up all night talking."
Alessio Botticelli/GC Images
Then, as we had heard before, he got her email address (we hear it was Amal@Awesome.Org) and proceeded to keep her attention. Which seems like a no-brainer, but who knows—Amal had talked to a lot of fascinating, brilliant people in her life before meeting George Clooney.
Adorably, he wasn't ignorant of that fact.
"So we started writing," he said. "I didn't know if she wanted to go out with me—I just thought we were buddies."
George told The Hollywood Reporter last year, "I thought she was beautiful, and I thought she was funny and obviously smart" But he didn't know right away what she thought.
"She probably thought I was old," he quipped. "Then she sent some pictures from when she was here, and we were writing each other, emailing, talking, mostly about what was going on in each other's lives, and over a period of time it became clear we were more than just friends."
He went to London that October to do post-production work on his film The Monuments Men and invited her to visit him at Abbey Road Studios, after which they went to dinner—resulting in a slew of "George Clooney on a date with mystery woman" headlines once the paparazzi caught sight of them.
Clooney stayed in town for six weeks, he recalled, which ended up being plenty of time to get serious. He and Amal spent Christmas together in Cabo San Lucas and then want on safari in Kenya.
By February 2014, barely seven months after they had met, George was getting ready to propose.
Married once before but divorced since 1993, he had famously mused in interviews that he doubted he'd get hitched again. But those are also always famous last words.
Clooney cooked a pasta dinner for Amal at his L.A. home on April 28, 2014, and, over champagne afterwards, he popped the question.
"And I did all the stuff, got down on my knee and did all the things you're supposed to do," he told THR. "I had a playlist with my [late aunt Rosemary Clooney's] songs on it, and I was waiting for this song, 'Why Shouldn't I?' 'Why shouldn't I take a chance when romance passes by? / Why shouldn't I know of love?' It's a really good song about why can't I be in love? And it played, and she's like, 'Holy s--t!'"
No wonder she was surprised. Clooney revealed later that the two had never even discussed marriage yet.
"And she just kept staring at the ring, going, 'Oh, my God.' It was 20 minutes of me on my knee, waiting for her to say yes, because she was so shocked. She only said yes when 'Goody, Goody' came on, which isn't very romantic— it's kind of mean: 'So you met someone who set you back on your heels, goody, goody.'"
Still fairly apropos. When something screams "too good to be true!" at you, that could set anyone on edge until it's proven otherwise.
But the leap of faith was worth it.
George Clooney married Amal Alamuddin at Ca' Farsetti palace in Venice, Italy, in front of family and dear friends, both famous and otherwise, on Sept. 27, 2014, in a nondenominational ceremony.
The bride wore Oscar de la Renta, photos from her VIP fitting with her mother, Baria, sister Tala and the late, great couturier himself making a splash in Vogue.
"George and I wanted a wedding that was romantic and elegant, and I can't imagine anyone more able than Oscar to capture this mood in a dress," Amal told the magazine in a rare interview not centered on one of her legal cases. "Meeting him made the design process all the more magical, as he is so warm and such a gentleman."
The groom wore Armani, who called it a "privilege and pleasure" to dress his longtime friend and client for the occasion.
"George and Amal radiated love all night," Baria Alamuddin told People after the long wedding weekend full of boat rides, food, wine, dancing and star-gazing was over. "The wedding was so unbelievably special, it was legendary. These three days—the friends, the families, the atmosphere, everything—will stay with me all the rest of my life."
Being married "feels pretty damn great," Clooney added, noting that he and his new wife were, simply, "looking forward to everything."
After legally marrying in a civil ceremony on Sept. 29, a Monday, they reportedly honeymooned in the Seychelles and then were enjoying an extended staycation at their new London home when Clooney was summoned for duty.
"First, I had to explain that to my wife which didn't play well," he joked on The Graham Norton Show about the order of business, which was a command appearance at New York Comic-Con to promote Tomorrowland. "And then, the whole idea of spending part of your honeymoon with people dressed up like Captain Kirk and Star War scharacters somehow wasn't easy to explain to my new bride…But, I showed up and it was actually fun."
Amal herself went back to work barely a week later, jetting to Greece as part of the team advising the Greek government on their hoped-for return of the contested Parthenon Marbles (aka the Elgin Marbles) from the U.K.
So, their vowed intention to not spend more than a week apart was put into play sooner than they expected. But they seem to be doing just fine.
Since then, everything we've heard coming from Mr. and Mrs. Clooney World has sounded just as life-affirming as it appeared in the beginning. In February 2017, almost exactly a year ago, Julie Chenwho along with husband Les Moonves is a longtime friend of George's—confirmed on The Talk in the most casual of Internet-rocking announcements that the Clooneys were expecting twins.
"We are really happy and really excited. It's going to be an adventure," Clooney said on the French program Rencontres de Cinema a couple weeks later. Since getting the news "we've sort of embraced it all…with arms wide open."
Once again, like marriage, having children together wasn't something that the couple had over-discussed.
"It had never been part of my DNA," Clooney admitted to THR last September after he was a dad. "We didn't plan on it. We never talked about it until after we were married, which is funny. There was an assumption that we didn't want them. And then, after the wedding, Amal and I were talking and we just felt we'd gotten very lucky, both of us, and we should share whatever good luck we've got. It would seem self-centered to just have that belong to us."
"When George talked about not seeing kids in his future, 'I would listen to him patiently and then finally step in and say, 'George, some astounding woman is going to know your socks off, end of story,'" eternal optimist Nick Clooney told People last summer. "And that's exactly what happened."
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
Daughter Ella and son Alexander Clooney were born on June 6, about a month early—either, depending on who you ask, the Lindo Wing at St. Mary's Hospital, where Kate Middleton has had all of her children, or in the equally exclusive-sounding Kensington Wing at London's Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
All went accordingly and, as George's rep said at the time, Amal and the babies were "healthy, happy and doing fine," while Clooney was "sedated and should recover in a few days."
Alexander and Ella Clooney of Los Angeles, London and Lake Como have pretty much been living the high life ever since. (And will continue to do so, thanks in no small part to the $1 billion sale Clooney and his partners in Casamigos brokered for their high-end tequila brand last June, right around when the babies arrived.)
Not putting on any airs about how much work caring for newborn twins would be, George and Amal hired super nanny Connie Simpson to help out early on, perhaps getting the recommendation from former satisfied clients Matt and Lucy Damon. All went so well that the Clooneys wholeheartedly endorsed Simpson's upcoming book The Nanny Connie Way: Secrets to Mastering the First Four Months of Parenting, which is due out in April.
"If I were a baby, I would want Connie to be my Nanny," George and Amal said in a statement. "I want her to wrap me in a blanket and rock me to sleep. We loved having her as part of our family."
Aside from the usual gotcha shots that have been taken of the couple with their babies when they've ventured out and about, the Clooneys have opted to keep Ella and Alexander entirely to themselves.
The angling for photos of the twins was pretty egregious right off the bat, though. When a French tabloid published what George said were illegally taken pictures of the kids last July, he vowed to go after everyone involved in the taking, selling and publishing to the fullest extent of the law.
"The safety of our children demands it," he told E! News.
"Every single day there's some crazy sort of infringement," Clooney told THR in September. "And you go, 'OK, we'll eat it. That's what we have to do.' But when someone breaks the law, that's beyond what we bargained for, beyond the pact I made: that when you're famous, you're going to be followed. I don't know anyone who wouldn't be furious."
Clooney admits that the level of attention paid to him, a level that both rose and fell when Amal entered his life as the scrutiny shifted in her direction, was something his partner had to get used to.
"It's a little like being in a parade, and it's not easy—particularly for her—because, in general, we live a very private life," he said.
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Casamigos Tequila
And so it's continued for George and Amal, whose new normal includes work, play and parenting. Generally by each other's side, they went to the Venice Film Festival last September and enjoyed the Casamigos Halloween party in October with longtime friends Rande Gerber and Cindy Crawford. George's playful, pragmatic personality has stayed intact, such as when they handed out headphones to fellow travelers on a flight to help cancel out the baby noise.
Earlier this month, the couple sent flowers and thank you notes to the cast of a production of My Fair Lady they enjoyed on date night in Reading, England.
As for expanding the family even further, Amal has indicated that she thinks two kids is it for them, telling THR that, at 39, "I already had them quite late." So a devoted foursome they will be.
Clooney's latest directorial effort, the dark satire Suburbicon starring pal Matt Damon, wasn't received particularly well by critics, but he's already on to the next thing—it was just announced that he'll direct and star in a six-part adaptation of Joseph Heller's Catch-22 for Hulu, his first leading role on a small screen since ER.
Coincidentally, Amal's been on the big screen in the documentary On Her Shoulders—which just screened at the Sundance Film Festival—about activist Nadia Murad's appeal to bring global attention to the plight of the Yazidis, a Kurdish religious sect who were besieged and terrorized by ISIS in Iraq. Amal took up Murad's case to get an audience with the UN General Assembly.
You know, business as usual.
Meanwhile, we're guessing George Clooney has something special in store for his missus' 40th birthday, which is Saturday. A surprise party? A surprise trip? Dedicating the entire month of spring to her?
Though whatever they do, be it local or global, with a crowd or just themselves, the most important thing is that they'll be together.
"Every single day of my life, I just feel lucky," Clooney rhapsodized to THR last year. "Lucky in my career. Lucky enough to have found the perfect partner. Sometimes in life it doesn't happen on your schedule, but you find the person that you were always supposed to be with. That's how I feel, and I know that's how Amal feels."